Event notes – 70:20:10 The Evidence Behind the Numbers

I recently attended this half day event, organised by the Corporate eLearning Consortium, based around a few sessions with Charles Jennings and Laura Overton.

The day combined research findings, case studies and other material from Toward Maturity’s research related to 70:20:10 and Charles Jennings’ new 100% performance book (including his new roles for learning/performance professionals).

For anyone familiar with the 70:20:10 concept (if you’re not you obviously can just Google that or go here) there was probably not too much new in the day.  However, there were a few nice takeaways for those who feel they still need to progress the recognition of informal learning (the ‘70’ and ‘20’) in their organizations.  I have listed some of these below (numbered) with my reflections indendented:

  1. The latest research provides data to bust a number of the remaining ‘myths’ related to L&D.
    • As most people who understand the framework already know, the focus has got to be on getting the correct balance of formal and informal learning to drive performance in your organisation. It is not that everyone should be aiming for 90% informal.
  2. Formal learning needs to be reborn.
    • Coming to L&D from HE I often have a bit of trouble with the view of ‘formal’ learning in workplace environments.  To me it is about combining different elements in an online environment; the event and other conferences/webinars tend to presume that the ’10’ is a face-to-face course or virtual classroom.  As Charles Jennings pointed out, the key thing really is ensuring the formal relates to, and is embedded, with workplace practice.
  3. The actual 70/20/10 numbers were originally from managers’ development research.
    • I think this is a point that often does not come through – these numbers will make more sense for an audience like managers.  In other environments the ratios vary.
  4. Branding can be important.  Put things across in a manageable way to change cultures.
    • Examples mentioned included Citi’s move from ‘courses’ to ‘campaigns’.  Danone’s ‘1 learning a day’ and EoN’s ‘learning anywhere anytime’.  One named blocker for evolution was L&D teams who see their job as ‘courses’.  Personally I have, again, never really understood that – perhaps it is a historic thing that a ‘topic’ needed to be covered in an event.  However, we surely now recognised that learning about a topic and/or driving behavioural change will happen over time and an on-going internet resource to support that makes sense.  It was mentioned that an LMS can be seen as a ‘course vending machine’ in too many organisations – again I would argue that might make sense within your organization’s information architecture.
  5. Don’t be satisfied with the old mindset – focus instead on performance and your impact.
    • Evaluation is always such a challenge for support staff who, realistically, work in a machine of many parts. L&D are no different but I liked the concepts outlined around mindset.
  6. Get your principles in place – what you will do as ‘learning’ team, what people can expect from you and what staff can expect of the organization.
    • This is a fair point in my opinion.  A challenge with the merging of supporting roles and shifting professional boundaries undoubtedly makes things less clear – L&D professionals are no longer attached to a classroom (if they ever were), information professionals no longer locked in a library (again often that’s a misnomer but its one that has become pervasive), business development professionals work beyond the tradeshow/cold call, recruitment no longer just do the milk-round circuits, etc.  There is a need to be clear on responsibilities and transparent on skillsets that can be leveraged for organizational objectives.
    • I really like the metaphor of becoming the “oil in the engine, not a spanner in the works” – probably something to throw at anyone who is seen as a blocker (not just L&D) through a lack of innovation around policy, procedure, etc.
  7. Continue to challenge ourselves about how we can support people day-to-day in the flow of work.
    • There was a lot of discussion around making people more self-conscious and reflective.  Ask questions of your star staff such as “if you have a problem how do you solve it” to avoid the challenge of reverting to learning/courses. Again, I would say instructional design has evolved to think about the topics and behaviours needed, the end state desired and then how to get there. A lot of these arguments really come back to getting proper performance consulting in place.


Author: iangardnergb

My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information. To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader (I.gardner.gb) and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).

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